On Thursday Russia responded to sanctions by imposing a total ban on certain food products from the United States.
“Fulfilling the presidential order, I’ve signed a government decree. Russia imposes a total ban on deliveries of beef, pork, fruit, vegetables, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products,”said Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev during the opening of a weekly government session.
Trade between the United States and Russia has more than tripled over the last decade. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, meat from the United States represented 19% of trade between the two countries. Russia is one of the largest export markets for chicken, with 39% of total US chicken exports going to Russia in 2008.
Russia bought $43 billion worth of food last year and is the biggest consumer of EU fruit and vegetables.
In addition to the ban on food imports, Medvedev said Ukrainian airlines would be prohibited from flying over Russian airspace in flights to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Turkey. The Russian President said his country is considering a similar ban on U.S. and EU airlines transiting to Siberia and Asia.
The ban imposed on products from the European Union, the U.S., Australia, Canada and Norway will last for a year and will be reviewed at the end of the 12-month period.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the ban on Wednesday. Economists say sanctions imposed on Russia’s finance, oil and defense industries in response to the Russian stance on Ukraine have affected the Russian economy and edged the country toward recession.
Russia considers the sanctions economic warfare and has vowed to respond in kind.
“It is important to be clear what sanctions are – economic warfare,” Caleb Maupin, a political activist in New York told RT on Thursday. “When the US or Western countries sanction a country, they are trying to cut it off from international trade and that results in a lot of suffering in that country. And because the world economy is centered around Western banks and corporations, they have the ability to attack countries. So, Russia is responding to what is being done by the US.”
In addition to attacking the Russian economy with punitive sanctions, the U.S. last month charged Russia had violated an arms control treaty when it tested a ground-launched cruise missile.
“It is the most serious allegation of an arms control treaty violation that the Obama administration has leveled against Russia and adds another dispute to a relationship already burdened by tensions over the Kremlin’s support for separatists in Ukraine and its decision to grant asylum to Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor,” The New York Times reported.